Tag Archives: macstories

10.5-inch iPad Pro resolution

Federico Viticci reviews the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro at MacStories. On the screen size:

While some had assumed that Apple would take the same 2732 x 2048 display of the 12.9” iPad Pro and condense it to a smaller size, the company has introduced a new resolution in the iOS device matrix – a decision, I think, made to hit 264ppi on a 10.5” panel while retaining UI elements that are large and comfortable to tap. Cramming the large iPad’s display in this model might have resulted in a richer multitasking experience at an even smaller scale, but I believe touch usability would have suffered.

I assumed until reading Federico’s review that when my 12.9-inch iPad Pro was ready for an upgrade, I’d downsize to the new 10.5-inch. That no longer seems like a good choice. While my MacBook Pro is getting repaired this week, I’m using the 12.9 as my exclusive computer. The extra resolution in split view is really great. I don’t think I’d want to give that up.

Dropbox, iCloud, and GitHub on the iPad

Federico Viticci has another fantastic long-form essay, this time about using the iPad Pro for a year. It’s the story of his iPad workflow plus mini reviews of each app that make using the iPad as a primary computer possible.

I haven’t finished reading the whole thing yet, but I’ve been paying particular attention to the theme of file management. I use Dropbox for my most important files — documents, notes, and photos — because I want them synced everywhere and accessible in an obvious, transparent way. iCloud is too opaque and app-specific.

Federico covers this conflict early in the essay with a list of iCloud downsides:

iOS apps like Documents and Workflow can’t access or display the contents of other apps’ folders. This prevents the existence of a full-featured iCloud Drive file manager that offers functionalities Apple doesn’t want to build in their iCloud Drive app. There should be an API to allow third-party apps to gain access to the entire contents of your iCloud Drive filesystem, just like there are APIs for photo and music access.

I’ll be happily surprised if Apple ever adds such an API. It seems unlikely. And if that’s true, it means iCloud will be permanently crippled compared to Dropbox.

The trend to new iCloud-first apps like Ulysses and Bear is fine. It doesn’t appeal to me, though. I use Ulysses on the Mac because I can sync with Dropbox. There are so many Dropbox-capable iOS text editors that I feel confident using my current favorite and switching whenever I want.

Federico also describes using GitHub and the iPad app Working Copy for collaborative editing:

Working Copy’s diff support has been a boon for how we edit Markdown and collaborate on articles. We can keep track of every edit and comment in a centralized location without creating duplicates. Working Copy makes it easy to follow the evolution of a document through multiple commits; every writer can chime in with their own suggestions and Working Copy will handle file merging and conflict resolution thanks to GitHub.

GitHub is useful for much more than code. I personally love the simplicity of Gists and GitHub Pages. It’s great to see how MacStories can use GitHub for editing articles, too.

Mixed feelings about the iPhone 7 future

Federico Viticci published a great review of the iPhone 7 for MacStories last week. He opened with this:

After nearly two years spent using a 5.5-inch iPhone, I’m accustomed to not having a compact phone anymore. The iPhone 6 Plus and 6s Plus have reshaped my iPhone experience for a simple reason: they give me more of the most important device in my life.

Followed by the main theme of his review:

In many ways, the iPhone 7 feels like a portable computer from the future – only in a tangible, practical way that is here with us today.

I’ll admit to some jealousy of Federico’s iOS-only lifestyle. Apple’s mobile OS is fun to use in part because of its simplicity and in part because of its inherent mobility.

If I could only choose one computing device — one phone, no tablets, no Macs — I would get an iPhone 7 Plus. The largest phone would make for a great mini tablet, nice for photography, writing, and the web. Maybe when I retire from living in Xcode and Objective-C, I’ll daydream about traveling the country with a backpack and iPhone 7 Plus, never tied to my desk again.

But in the meantime, I’m fortunate that I can have a Mac and a few iOS devices. When I go to a conference, I take the iPad Mini and big iPad Pro along with my phone. Because I have those larger devices available, I always want the convenience of carrying the smallest phone when I’m not sitting down to work. The weight and feel of the iPhone SE is perfect.

There’s a point in Federico Viticci’s review where he covers the headphone jack controversy. He hints at a common justification I’ve heard for some of Apple’s decisions, and I think it’s kind of a defeatist attitude that is worth commenting on:

You and I might wax philosophical about the beauty of RSS, HTML, MP4, and USB, but millions of people only demand easy tech and engaging social apps.

Federico is right, but this fact is exactly why those of us who are passionate about open standards must make a strong case for them. We can’t leave such important decisions only in the hands of big corporations and fickle customers. It’s our responsibility to write about what we believe is best for the web and best for the tech industry.

Podcast thoughts on WWDC

I’m back from San Francisco, catching up on everything I missed while traveling. I recorded a few podcast episodes during WWDC week, both my own and an interview.

On Core Intuition, Daniel and I talked right after the keynote about the morning’s announcements. From the show notes:

Manton and Daniel react to the 2016 WWDC keynote. […] iMessage and Siri extensibility, Continuity improvements, Apple Pay for the web, Apple’s keynote diversity, and more.

In the middle of the week, I talked with John Voorhees of MacStories about WWDC news but also a lot about microblogging. It may be the most I’ve shared about my latest project, all in one place.

Yesterday, I recorded a short episode of Timetable. I wanted to capture what the trip to San Francisco each year means to me, outside of the conference itself. I find the week a good opportunity to reset and think about where my focus should be across my projects.

Photo blogging follow-up

As I’ve written about already, I now post photos to my own site in addition to Instagram. I use the Workflow app to make this easier, automatically uploading a photo and making a new blog post for it from iOS.

Ryan Toohil has taken my rough workflow and improved it, adding support for prompting for the photo title, fixing the photo’s orientation, and a better dynamic folder name based on the date. You can see his updated workflow here.

I still have a lot to learn about using Workflow. It’s the kind of app that you can only really understand the potential for after diving in with a real problem. Now I find myself looking for more ways I can use the app.

I’ve also finally read Federico Viticci’s excellent intro to Workflow over at iMore, which includes this advice:

“When I was new to Workflow, visualizing the vertical flow of actions before building the stack was my biggest hurdle in getting started. I’ve since developed a habit that comes in handy every day: if I already know what a workflow should do at the beginning and at the end, I place the first action and the last one immediately on the canvas. Then, I only have to figure out how to go from Point A to Point B, dropping actions between those two as I play around with different ideas.”

Of course, Federico has written many times about Workflow. He has an article about using Workflow to post to WordPress, and tips and example workflows in the MacStories Club email. His podcast Canvas with Fraser Speirs also routinely discusses workflows.

Developing for the iPad Pro

Let’s start with a quote from the MacStories review by Federico Viticci:

“For developers, it’s time to be bold with their iOS apps and understand that they can be more than single-purpose utilities. There are millions of people who aren’t buying PCs anymore because mobile devices are their only computers.”

I’ve been using the iPad Pro a lot in just the last two days. Apps that have taken advantage of the larger screen — and that support iPad multitasking well — are just much more useful. It’s great to have Slack or Tweetbot in the sidebar and a writing app in the main part of the screen. (Until Editorial is updated, like Seth Clifford I’ve switched to Byword.)

As a developer, going from an iPad Mini to an iPad Pro has opened my eyes to what Federico says above. You simply can’t have a great iPad app today if it doesn’t attempt to fit well on the iPad Pro. So although I said I would discontinue my app Tweet Library, I’ve actually been spending some time this week to update it to support iPad multitasking.

The key to iPad Pro support is actually less about auto layout (although that’s helpful too), and more about split views and size classes. For a modern app, this is an easy transition. But Tweet Library was written for iOS 4. Back then, UISplitViewController was extremely underpowered. I had used MGSplitViewController instead, which I’ve modified over the years to adapt to multiple screen sizes from the iPhone to the iPad. So the first step to real iPad multitasking was to rip out most of the split view code and start over with a clean foundation based on iOS 8/9 and UISplitViewController. Not exactly trivial work that I could knock out in a day, although I tried.

I remain very optimistic about the iPad Pro, especially when the Apple Pencil is actually available. From a business standpoint, it also seems like a better investment in time than either the Apple Watch or Apple TV. There are so many platforms and distractions now. If I can’t focus on a single platform, I want to at least be proactive in saving some attention for the iPad.